There is this television commercial in which a boy standing in a wooden tree hut asks a man playing an exterminator if it's true that termites eat wood. When the exterminator says it is indeed true and describes the little pests' appetites, the kid replies: "We're doomed."
"Not necessarily," the man says, reassuringly, and explains how he can prevent it.
In a case of life imitating art, I was approached by a woman following a talk last week. She began reciting a litany of all the ills that have beset this once proud and respected country since the Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld Gang took it hostage, and concluded by saying: "We're doomed."
Not necessarily," I replied, although not reassuringly, because I'm far less confident than that pretend exterminator.
"But we've got to put up with them for two-and-a-half more years," she protested.
"Not necessarily," I said again, starting to sound like a stuck record.
I went on to explain to her that all it would take to crack the bubble of secrecy that surrounds this administration and its misdeeds would be for Democrats to recapture one house of Congress. With committee majorities, they would be able to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses and launch investigations of issues that have gone unexamined thanks to White House stooges like Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Rep. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma.
And should the Democrats manage to retake both houses, a move to impeach Bush (for Cheney's misdeeds) is almost certain to follow.
To make this happen, of course, means the Democrats will have to come up with a dynamic leader and a program between now and November. Don't count on either happening.
The Bush administration is vulnerable on a number of fronts: Iraq, health care, the economy if you're a working stiff, and the environment to name a few. But to exploit those weaknesses, the Democrats are going to have to overcome the indifference, largely born of timidity, of the national press corps.
And more important, they are going to have to meet and defeat the offensive that is about to be launched against them by Karl Rove. Rove is to dirty politics what Nathan Bedford Forrest was to cavalry warfare.
When Rove set aside his presidential advisory duties earlier this month to concentrate on the coming campaign, it was written off by much of the media as just part of a White House staff reshuffling.
It's more significant than that, much more. It's a measure of how high the stakes are in this election, an election that could well determine whether the Cheney-Bush administration makes it to January, 2009.
In 2000, Rove's task was relatively simple: First, defeat John McCain's primary challenge by way of smear tactics and lies, then do the same to Al Gore; the same in 2004, just different names.
This time, the task is more daunting. A gain of 15 seats would give the House to the Democrats, six would put them in control of the Senate. That means deploying teams to prop up the party's 21 most vulnerable candidates by whatever means necessary, and in Rove's book that means everything short of assassination. Or let's hope it does.
And the difficulty of his task will be compounded by the fact that, if all the polls are reasonably accurate, 70 percent of the American public has no faith in the nominal president (Bush), and nearly 80 percent mistrust the actual president (Cheney).
Add to that the public's growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq, the administration's sellout to the insurance and drug companies on health issues, its abysmal environmental record, and our gradual transition into a theocracy, and Rove could find himself going into battle backed by little more than the Falwells, Dobsons, Robertsons and their benighted flocks.
Even so, if there is no army of Democrats and independents to meet them, he could carry the day, because the old axiom holds true:
You can't beat something with nothing.
Rossie is associate editor of the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin; his column is published on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
© 2006 Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin